Report: Phone, Web services key for cablers

Screen Digest also says investment needs to increase

LONDON -- Telephone and Internet services could provide the building blocks for the future success of Europe's cable industry, according to a report issued here Tuesday.

If cablers want to grow business in an "increasingly competitive pay TV marketplace," Internet and telephone services will help, research specialist Screen Digest said.

The research says that a period of consolidation across the European cable industry, followed by "heavy investment from private equity groups" has bolstered the prospects for cable operators across Europe.

Titled "European Broadband Cable 2008," the report indicates that Internet services are becoming increasingly important for cable players "as growth in the groups' television business begins to ease." And the provision of reasonably priced high-speed broadband is being used as a carrot for consumers.

Screen Digest senior analyst Guy Bisson said that heavy investment over the past few years has allowed the sector to "focus on offering triple-play services -- with a great deal of success in some markets, most notably the U.K. and Spain."

But the report also warned that investment will need to be upped across Eastern Europe and Germany, "where much of the cable is still analog," to remain competitive.

The provision of subscription television services remains core to the cable industry's income.